After nine hours of overnight debate in a loudly protested special legislative session, the Texas House voted early Monday morning to pass sweeping legislation that would ban abortion after twenty weeks and drastically restrict abortions before then, requiring providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals and clinics to have ambulatory surgical centers, among other regulations. (The hashtags #sb5 and #txleg provide a nice account.)
It’s the latest episode in the national pro-life TRAP movement (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers), which seeks to limit abortions by getting restrictive regulations on the books in state legislatures. The laws are usually cast as a way to make abortions safer — even though less than .3 percent of abortions end in hospitalization — to “ensure that women are given the highest standard of health care in a very vulnerable time in their life,” as the Texas bill’s predictably ill-spoken Republican sponsor, state Rep. Jodie Laubenberg said. Reproductive rights advocates say the laws only serve to block access to abortions and shut down clinics. According to the Texas Tribune, the latest bill would close 37 of the state’s 42 clinics, which cannot afford the upgrades necessary to meet the standards of surgical centers. The Senate is expected to accept the House’s changes to the bill Tuesday.